Best laid plans

Best laid plans

Roger Bisby makes up for lost time.

I am on holiday as I write this. I have a mellow feeling and it is hard to summon the energy to get upset about anything. I suppose having to write a plumbing piece is reason enough. Perhaps I should have done it before I left the UK. It was my intention but the best laid plans of mice and men come to nothing if you run out of time. Lack of time is something every plumber knows about. We have to be optimistic about how long jobs take but we know that a million little things (maybe make that two million) conspire to blow us off course. But if we put in the estimate for how long it would really take, we would never get the jobs in the first place. So all through the job we are trying to make up time. Not even Einstein could do that. Yet he was onto something with that relativity malarkey and if he had managed to bottle it he would have died a multi-millionaire.

The theory of relativity can be explained in very basic terms by the following analogy. If you stand on one side of a room and I stand on another and I throw you a 22mm coupler, there are measurable points at which it leaves my hand and arrives in yours (assuming you catch it). Let’s say it travels for two seconds. Mathematically we can halve that time and halve it again and again. In fact there is no limit to how many times we can halve it. That is infinite. So this tells us that we can keep the 22mm coupler in the air between you and me forever, never quite leaving my hand and never arriving in yours. You can’t argue with the maths, there is no finite point so what we are seeing when something travels through space (the room) is only relative to that space.

Every plumber knows that one, where you are stuck in a room (or a loft space) and the job is neverending. No matter how fast you work, it seems that you are never going to get there. The difference between us and Einstein is that he grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down that famous equation explaining that this is not an illusion. He lived to regret it after some deviants turned it into an atomic bomb and blew up half of Japan. Then he uttered those famous words: “I wish I had been a plumber.”

No you don’t Albert, not really. Try it for a week and you will soon go back to your algebra.

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